Pilot Begins To Take Shape

CCC Online Education InitiativeDear Colleagues,

The OEI project is moving along! We have completed selection of the permanent executive team and announced our pilot colleges.

On the executive team, John Makevich will lead strategic planning and operations, Jory Hadsell will head up academic affairs, and Bonnie Peters will lead the student services efforts. John is from College of the Canyons, Jory is from the Los Rios District and Bonnie is from San Diego City. We are so happy to have them begin on Sept. 1. See the story “OEI Names 3 New Executives” for more information.

We took a big step earlier this month with the announcement of the pilot colleges. (See the story “3 OEI Groups To Pilot Courses And Services” for more information.) It was a difficult process to determine which colleges were ready to be the first to start this work officially as there were so many great colleges offering to participate. One item that we absolutely needed to have each college on board with was the implementation of Open CCCApply. Without their being part of the systemwide application process, we would have a difficult time getting students registered in the OEI Exchange courses. We also know that several districts are not using CCCApply, and we will work to include these districts in resource efforts as the project progresses.

While there have been so many pieces of work completed to allow for the announcement, it does seem like we have taken a huge step into making it “real,” and I want to share some of that with you.

Three Pilot Groups In Place

We have established three pilot groups, which will be working on three distinct aspects of the OEI project. There was a need to keep the full-launch group small (8 colleges) to make sure that the complex processes of enrolling students are tested smoothly. The other two groups are staging courses and testing resource solutions that will be implemented as appropriate, sometime after the initial system “shake down cruise” is completed in Summer 2015.

The selected pilot colleges should expect to hear from me via email during the next two weeks with more information about how they will be starting. The new executive team will be calling the pilot colleges during the first week in September to make connections and get started with the work.

All work by these pilot groups is scheduled to start in September. Here are basic descriptions of the activities they are assigned:

Group 1: Full Launch Colleges
This group will actively participate in the development and implementation of the CCMS and will also assist with development of the many matriculation processes and agreements for launching courses for the OEI Exchange in Summer 2015. This group will also participate in course review and selection activities. Lead: Steve Klein.

Group 2: Student Readiness Staging Group
This group will participate in development of online student readiness solutions and will pilot them in their own courses, in their own CMS, with their own students in Spring 2015. Their work will also inform the work of Group 1, which will pilot courses within the new CCMS in Summer 2015. Their courses will be staged to be added into the CCMS in Fall 2015, or earlier as needed. Lead: Bonnie Peters.

Group 3: Tutoring Staging Group
This group will participate in development of online tutoring solutions and will pilot them in their own courses, in their own CMS, with their own students in Spring 2015. Their work will also inform the work of Group 1. Their courses will be staged to be added into the CCMS in Fall 2015, or earlier as needed. Lead: Jory Hadsell.

Pulling It All Together

When I came on board as a launch team member in March, the project was just beginning to take some shape. Since then, the pieces have become clearly defined as the steering committee and their work groups continue developing the necessary components in a highly collaborative setting. As I have mentioned before, collaboration takes time, but the resulting outcomes are much better for it.

Also, since the beginning of last Fall, the economic picture for the CCCs has changed. Back in 2012 when the discussions around the OEI began to take shape, we were turning away thousands of students from courses they desperately needed. Many of those students gave up on us and found other colleges or went to work. When colleges have to cut course sections, they lose students. It takes a while for them to come back and for us to put those courses back in the schedule.

So, while access was critical to focus on in 2012, colleges are now seeking to meet their capacity levels. Our big job now really focuses on making student success levels improve in our online courses, resulting in more students completing and making room in classes for our incoming students. Keep in mind as we build this project that the economic environment has caused us to adapt to the current needs of online students, which is both success and access toward completion. The goals are all centered on helping students complete their educational goals by increasing access, improving courses and developing effective and efficient practices.

As you watch this project take shape, please know that there are many, many components that are being thoughtfully ironed out, one small bit at a time. Take a minute to imagine how it would be if you were asked to build the kind of comprehensive system we are creating.

There are instructional pieces around course design and review; many levels of professional development opportunities to be designed and created; collaborative structures to be determined, initiated and implemented; complex matriculation processes to be designed and implemented; sustainability considerations for the grant itself; a multitude of reporting processes; AND a huge technical component that involves integration of two other complex projects (Education Planningand Common Assessment). Include in that list the many stakeholders that have to be part of the development and implementation processes and you will just begin to see the magnitude of what we are doing. (I am sure that I left out some things, even!)

I am continually amazed at the ability of all of our stakeholder members to put aside their personal interests to focus on what’s good for students. At times, there have been some disagreements about exactly what’s needed. These instances have been handled so respectfully and professionally and, more often than not, generated brilliant collaborative moments that go beyond any one person’s ability to visualize. I am sure that this will continue as we keep on developing an online learning environment for our students and ourselves.

Next Steps

To name a few:

  • New staff members start Sept. 1.
  • Contact pilot colleges with more information about what their activities will be in the coming semesters. (Email, phone contacts, agreements)
  • Begin identification and review of courses to be involved in the pilot studies.
  • Determine the content of the request for proposals for the CCMS selection.
  • Develop online resources for online learners.
  • Establish matriculation processes.
  • Begin data collection process development.
  • Begin efforts to address the needs of developmental students who may be taking online courses.

Have a great semester start!

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